Rumors have been circulating for almost a week that Lotus was planning to release a stripped-down, low-cost version of the Elise in the States. Today, we finally received confirmation from Lotus' U.S. PR-man, Kevin Smith, that indeed, the Elise "Purist" edition is on the way, and unlike the dozens of other limited-edition Elises coming out of Hethel, this is one we can actually get behind.
According to Smith, the "Purist" edition is an attempt to get the Elise closer to the MSRP it carried when introduced to the U.S. market in 2005. So Lotus has set the price at a slightly more achievable $43,995, or around $3,500 less than a base Elise.
However, the "Purist" is hardly a stripper model. Only available in Ardent Red, Monaco White and Saffron Yellow, the entry-level Lotus is still packing the 190-hp, Toyota-source 2ZZ 1.8-liter four and six-speed manual transmission, along with Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs, AP-developed calipers with ventilated and cross-drilled discs, silver wheels sized 16x5.5 in front and 17x7.5 in the rear, each shod in Yokohama Neova high-performance rubber (175/55 front, 225/45 rear). Black leather seats join a Momo steering wheel, power doors locks, air-conditioning, a four-speaker stereo with in-dash CD player, tire-pressure monitoring system and an alarm with engine immobilizer. The only option available is the Starshield coating for $995. Neither the Sport or Touring pack will be offered and we're okay with that – it's near perfection already.